Space: It’s huge! You think Texas has big skies? Ain’t nothing compared to the view out the viewscreens. And it’s just full of wild places and interesting peoples. These are the adventures of the HMB Impulsive. Its mission: to explore those new and interesting worlds (wilder the better!), to seek out new peoples and to boldly do what no one else has the guts to do! Don’t believe me? Hold my beer!
Captain’s log, Intergalactic date 676767.67 and how cool is that? The Union Fleet has redeployed to Sector 7 in order to confront another incursion by the Cybers. Meanwhile, HuFleet has been left behind to patrol the other sectors and take up the slack. Frankly, I’d rather we be there in the thick of things, but after the unfortunate incident with the Cognitives, we’re not invited. I guess it was worth it; we won the battle and seeing an emotionless species worked into a frothing frenzy is a memory I’ll treasure forever.
At any rate, the Impulsive has been assigned a diplomatic mission. We’ll be hosting the engagement rituals of the Clichans and the Kandors. Although the same species, the two worlds have been at odds for some time, and it’s hoped an arranged marriage between the children of their leaders will bring peace and stability to the area. As an amateur xenologist, I’m especially interested in the courtship ritual, which must be carried out on neutral ground.
Captain Jed Tiberius shrugged his shoulders inside his dress uniform, trying to coax the fabric to loosen up. The replicator had overstarched it again. Ah, well, it was only for a few minutes. Once he greeted the prince and passed him off to Lt. Loreli, he could make a quick change before the meeting with Security. Loreli, or course, looked perfectly comfortable, not to mention perfectly perfect, in her green, skin tight outfit, despite the stays and the 5-inch heeled boots. Once again, he admired her training and was glad he didn’t have to do it.
The velour material played well even with the utilitarian lighting of the skip, with shadows and highlights that accentuated her curves and complemented the smooth bark of her skin and the aloe-shaped leaves that adorned her head where humans would have hair. Ever since they’d rescued her from that greenhouse and released her from the confines of her pot, the Botanical had thrived.
Loreli watched the teleporter pad, aware of his scrutiny but feigning obliviousness. Such training!
Behind the teleporter console, Crewman Dour tapped buttons. “The Clichans report ready to meet their fate,” he said.
“By all means, zap them over.”
A shimmer and a tinkling like a the excited jabberings of the fairy folk of Midsummers Nine, and two figures appeared on the dais. Prince Petru dressed in the torn finery in the aquamarine that indicated royalty of his planet – frayed long-sleeved shirt held by a patchwork vest, his pants equally unraveled at the bottom and bearing parallel slashes from mid-calf to mid-thigh. Edor, his advisor, wore drabber shades of blue and his material was intact. They patted themselves, as if ensuring everything had transported in place. From the console, Dour nodded approval.
Capt. Tiberius stepped forward, hand outstretched. “Gentlemen, welcome to the Impulsive. I’m Captain Jed Tiberius.”
The prince grabbed his hand and shook it in both of his. “Petru, Crown Prince of Clicha. Your device is extraordinary! When do we get one?”
“That would not be up to me, your highness, but I could put in a word with the Union if you’d like.”
Edor stepped off the dais with considerably less enthusiasm than his sovereign. He said, “Please forgive the prince’s indiscretion captain. He can be…”
“Impulsive? That’s how we like ‘em on this ship. Of course, we have a saying, ‘Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins,’ so please keep it in mind, and we’ll get along just fine. May I introduce you to our xenologist, Lieutenant Loreli? She’ll be handling the arrangements for your courtship ceremony with Princess Katrin.”
“What are you?” the prince asked. His voice held awe and admiration.
Loreli quirked a smile. “A xenologist, as the Captain said. But my species is known in the Union as the Botanicals. We are plant-based life-forms as opposed to meat-based like yourself.”
“Loreli will escort you to the VR deck where you can pick the scenario for your meeting and courting your true-love-to be,” the Captain said. “If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a meeting with our security officer and chief engineer.”
“Is something wrong?” Edor asked. “We’ve heard reports that the Cybers…”
“No need to worry. They’re halfway across the galaxy, and the Union forces are on the way to take care of them. No, this is ship’s business. I’ll see you at the reception. Lieutenant? Gentleman?”
At the Captain’s outstretched arm, Loreli led them out.
From behind his console, Dour muttered, “You’re welcome, really.”